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Charles Wooster: 107?

Did Charles really live to be 107 years young. Read this press report.

THE WINGHAM CHRONICLE AND MANNING RIVER OBSERVER
(Tuesday, January 7, 1941)

"PASSING OF A PIONEER, SOLDIER and SETTLER"


Charles Wooster claimed that he was 107 years old, and even had this age placed on his coffin. The news reporter believed him. But he was actually 96 when he died. His obituary tells this story, and a lot about the life of a hardy pioneer to Australia.

Nabiac and the Wallamba and Manning districts, lost a remarkable personality by death on December 30, 1940, when Mr Charles Wooster of Nabiac, Wallamba River responded to the Last Call.

According to what Mr Wooster told the writer on May 5, 1933, he would be just about 107 years of age. Anyhow, on May 5, 1933, Charles Wooster was in Wingham and he was then as lively as the proverbial cricket.

The late Mr Wooster resided on the Wallamba for well on 70 years - that was for nearly the whole of his married lifetime. Mrs Wooster predeceased her husband by something over 17 years. They reared a family of seven - all boys. So far as the writer is aware, only four of them are alive today.

The late Charles Wooster claimed to be a direct descendant of Sir Charles Brandon, Earl of Suffolk, who married Ann Tudor, (sister of King Henry VIII). According to that statement, the old man has coursing through his veins some real royal blood.
Charles Wooster remarked to the writer on Wednesday 5, May, 1933, during the course of a most interesting interview ...
"I'm the oldest soldier and sailor in the Australian Commonwealth. My colours are red, white and blue. I always wear them and am proud of them."

"When I crossed the bar at Cape Hawke close on 67 years ago, there was only one sawmill and about half-a-dozen huts then at Forster. At Tuncurry there were then no signs of habitation whatsoever."

"The late David Ravell was with me on the ketch when I arrived at Cape Hawke long ago. I believe David Ravell was on a boat that traded to Wingham in later years, but he has long since gathered to the fold of his fathers."

"An uncle of mine - William O'Hersey - used to trade to Wingham on the Fire King, in the old days when maize and wheat were the principal crops grown, and dairying was really not thought of. But a lot of water has rolled down the Manning since then."

"Yes, I've had a varied carer. My reminiscences, if I had only made a note of them would have made good reading these days, and would have filled a monster book."

"Do you know, I was running grain from Russia, ti Ireland during the big famine, when the potato and other crops failed dismally. That's a long, long time ago. I made a thief of myself many a time in those hard old days. When the ship was anchored at Waterford, many a time men, women, and the children came along, fairly starving, and crying for food. I did not hesitate then to steal grain, and give it to the poor afflicted people. I would do the same to-morrow if a similar set of circumstances arose. I could not bear to see the poor people hungry."

"If memory serves me correctly, the Rev. Father T Mulcahy, who is in charge of the Taree Parish today, comes from Waterford. I had a conversation with him once in Mayo Hospital, Taree, and I believe he then told me that he was a native of Waterford."

"When I first visited Wingham, there were a dozen houses in the town. I used to go to Wingham per horseback, or else come up the river by boat."

"I was one of the first men to discover gold in the Northern Territory. That was on the Cape River. The first bit of gold I got there weighed fourteen ounces. That was unearthed at Mount Davenport. There was a party of us prospecting and digging there for sometime."

"I was always interested in gold digging, and I can claim to have opened the first reef at Gulgong, on the other side of Mudgee, NSW. I also materially assisted to float the first Gold Mining Company. It was known as 'The Gold Hill Quartz Mining and Crushing Company'."

"I placed the first crushing machine on Reedy Creek, near Gulgong. We purchased that crushing machine from a Mr Denney, then at Bathurst. Gulgong was a lively place in those days. There were thousands of diggers there then, and most of them were getting good gold. There were at least thirty-four hotels in Gulgong at that time, and they were all doing a roaring trade."

"Mudgee, even at this time, was a big, progressive town. I was married at Mudgee. The Late Archdeacon Gunther, of Mudgee, married us. My wife's maiden name was Matilda Greenaway. Her father erected the first flour mill for the late Mr Poole, at Tinonee on the Manning River. That's a long time ago, and there are no flour mills or sugar mills on the Manning today."

"I remember when I was getting married, Archdeacon Gunther, of Mudgee, said to me: 'Mr. Wooster, it is usual to give the Bell-man something for ringing the Marriage Bell.' In those days they used to ring the bell on the occasion of a wedding, so it seemed. However, I was bent on getting married quietly, as I did not want my mates to know anything about it."

"I said to Archdeacon Gunther: 'How much do they usually give the Bell-man?' He replied: Oh, five or ten shillings'. I said ' All right, give him five bob, but tell him not to ring the bell.' The bell did not ring in the old town of Mudgee for that wedding, anyhow - Charles Wooster saw to that."

"I, however, have been in many wars in my time. Fought against the Maoris in New Zealand, and was always ready to fight for my country and liberty. I claim to be the oldest soldier in NSW, and have several medals to prove it."

"Yes, I'm getting old - but this I can say: I always loved my fellow man, and when the opportunity offered I was not behind the door when any one was in need of a helping hand. I believed in that policy of -'helping one another'- for one can never tell when he or she might need a helping hand also."

However, Charles Wooster has heard the Last Bugle Call, and his remains were laid to rest in the Nabiac cemetery. Revs. R.V. Hanington and Woolgar officiated at the graveside. The latter was stationed at Nabiac 25 years ago.

We have now been informed that the age given on the coffin containing the mortal remains of this hardy old pioneer, was 107. A remarkable age.

Acknowledgment:

Written for the "Wingham Chronicle" by Fitz O'Wingham.

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